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AIA365 Staff | Students

Don Ketchum

Staff Writer,

Sweeping out thoughts on various prep sports subjects . . .

Dec 13, 2012

It is time again to sweep the cobwebs from my head so that more can gather over the winter months . . .

So here are a few things I have observed from my coverage area, which starts in Scottsdale and runs west across the Phoenix area and through northern and western Arizona . . . the rest of the state belongs to colleague Les Willsey . . .

The more I cover soccer matches, the more I enjoy the sport. The players are in top condition and are constantly on the move. They sprint in one direction, stop and spin on a dime and then go the other way.

In regard to the players and discussions with and protests to the referees, the Elvis song, A Little Less Conversation comes to mind. The players need to leave the talking to their coaches.

And the Oscar goes to . . . there also seems to be a bit too much acting going on in attempts to draw cards/get possessions and free kicks as players are taking dives, akin to “flopping’’ in basketball. Sure soccer is a physical sport and there are bound to be legitimate injuries, but let’s not get carried away.

Among the more impressive boys players I have seen are Phoenix Pinnacle’s Mason Robertson, Phoenix Cortez’s Roberto Valenzuela and Tolleson’s Anthony Hernandez. And oh yes, a guy named Riggs Lennon from Phoenix Brophy Prep. On the girls’ side, Phoenix Xavier Prep’s Michaela Dooley and Pinnacle’s Jorian Baucom have stood out.

With our great weather and the quality of soccer improving across the state, I am surprised that Arizona and Arizona State don’t have men’s programs and increase the level of play with their women’s programs. These schools could be at or near the top every year.

Belated congratulations to Phoenix Veritas Prep’s Sarah Sponcil, recently named the Gatorade Volleyball Player of the Year for Arizona. We will be fortunate to watch her again when she is a senior next year.

Was sad to learn that Craig Holland stepped down as football coach at Avondale Agua Fria, but happy at the same time that he will be able to get some R&R and spend more time with his family. If anyone has earned it, he has. Holland was a star quarterback at Phoenix Maryvale back in the day and later became the long-time coach at Flagstaff High as well as serving as an administrator. Good luck, Craig.

Still going strong as boys’ basketball coach at Phoenix Carl Hayden is Argie Rhymes, a part of high school basketball royalty in the state. His family is spread out all over. It is great to see that Argie still is having an impact.

If it is possible, the girls’ basketball team from Phoenix St. Mary’s might just be better than last year’s unbeaten national champs. We will get a better idea when the Lady Knights participate in the upcoming annual Nike Tournament of Champions in Chandler.

The Lady Knights have a possible future star in 6-foot freshman Vanessa Murphy. She is the sister of former Phoenix Xavier star Sam Murphy, who went on to have a productive career at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix.

The University of Virginia will be fortunate to have Sarah Fakler join its running programs. She is a three-time state cross-country champ from Phoenix Xavier.

And Flagstaff High junior Tatiana Gillick, who won the Division II title this year, should easily move to the next level.

Much has been said and written about Mark Andrews, the 6-foot-6 junior star receiver from Scottsdale Desert Mountain. He can catch anything thrown in his direction, but what has rarely been mentioned is the impact he had as the Wolves’ punter and kickoff leg.